Tired of Singing Trouble: My Novel is now available

Tired of Singing Trouble: My Novel is now available

Yes, here is a link to buy my novel, Tired of Singing Trouble on Amazon.

Before all of my other roles in professional life, I’m a writer. Ages ago, I wrote a novel that was the evolution of my senior thesis in college. Then, I did nothing with it.

Sure, some people got a chance to read it. I had some initial feedback and I made some changes. To a few people within my circle of friends, the book was something of a myth. Was I ever going to publish it and was there some dark reason why I didn’t?

A Promise Fulfilled

About three years ago, my father asked about the book when I was doing my weekly duty of bringing him reading material from the used bookstore. He jokingly asked if I could bring him my book to read. In the course of our conversation, he basically said “just go publish it and be done.” Although my dad’s thinking could be cloudy in the last years of his life (he passed in early 2018), that was a moment of clarity. I promised him that I would.

The old printout read by a handful ages ago.

So I decided to publish the book. I did give it a good edit and I got some beta readers who gave me some feedback but I told them that all I really wanted was a basic technical review of the book. I refused to completely re-write the story as I might from the perspective of a far older man.

What’s It All About?

So there is the backstory. Now the front story. Tired of Singing Trouble is about a man named Jay who is summoned back to his home in Southern California to attend a wedding as the best man, even though he’s lost touch with all of his hometown friends over the years. He is surprised by this and finds out that even though he left town years ago, the persona of him was still alive and well amongst his friends. The story takes place over just a couple of days (okay, there are flashbacks) with him attending the wedding festivities, reconnecting with friends and meeting some new people on a journey of discovery and acceptance.

Now, I’m sure that most of you are wondering: Where are the boardgames? Not to worry. There are board game references here and there within the book because Jay and his friends play tabletop games. I would even claim that the playing of games is a motif within the novel.
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The book is live on Amazon here, as a Kindle or a paperback. I hope you will enjoy the book. Thanks in advance for all of your support. Every single copy that sells is both a huge joy to me and another tiny bit of proof that I honored my promise to my dad.


If you are generous enough to want a signed physical copy, please send me a note to: bgbtabletopmedia@gmail.com and I’ll figure out the logistics.

E.R. Burgess

Here is a current author photo, with a COVID-19 mask in place for your protection.

5 Quick Questions About Macaron with Ta-Te Wu

5 Quick Questions About Macaron with Ta-Te Wu

Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our 5 Quick Questions interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Ta-Te Wu, the L.A.-based game designer, Cat-Theme Advocate, and the publisher of Sunrise Tornado Games, does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Macaron?

Game Designer, Painter and Beverage Enthusiast Ta-Te Wu

Ta-Te Wu: Macaron is a trick-taking game with novel tastes for 1 to 5 players. It’s easy to learn and play for people who are new to trick-taking game while being exciting and fun for advanced players.

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Ta-Te Wu: I love traditional trick-taking games, but they usually have a limit on the number of players. Plus, if you have a bad hand, you are less likely to enjoy the round. So I set a goal is to design a trick-taking game that’s flexible on the number of players, enjoyable to play even with a bad hand, and without overly-complicated abilities. And here is Macaron ☺

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Macaron: Delicious to behold. NOTE: This is the prototype so it might look different later.

Ta-Te Wu: Macaron is a rare game that fits in a traditional trick-taking games genre that is friendly enough to be enjoyable to new players. The experienced players won’t run away with the game, as can happen with some trick-takers. It’s also rare for a trick-taking game to have a solo option. Macaron does all this and still has enough depth for experienced players. It’s pretty much a game for any crowd.

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Ta-Te Wu: It doesn’t come with macarons?

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Macaron. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Ta-Te Wu: Thanks, Eric. Here it is:

Play Time: 30 to 45 min.
Number of Players: 1 to 5
Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tatewu/macaron-a-card-game-with-novel-tastes

JOKE TIME

Macaron A: Hey, Macaron B! Have you ever had a silly macaron?
Macaron B: No. What is it?
Macaron A: lol
Macaron B: What is it?
Macaron A: lol
Macaron B: I don’t get it.

Boardgame Survey – Win prizes!

Some readers of the text in this space know that I make software with a cognitive bent as a day job. Well, I’ve been talking to our CEO, Dr. Galen Buckwalter, about doing a study about board games for a while. Dr. Buckwalter was the founding scientist behind eHarmony and I’ve learned so much about psychology and, specifically, how to understand personality in the last five years since I started working with him.

Now, I’ve got the chance to do this study. NEON ID, the data independence platform that Galen and I are working with now through our company psyML, has agreed to sponsor the study I’ve been interested in for years.

If you’re willing to help build on the research of our hobby, all you need to do is go to: neonid.com and take the quick survey there, which will give you what we call a Color Fingerprint that shows off the key elements of your personality score based on HEXACO, the industry standard for personality understanding. Then, take the survey below. You can also just as easily do the survey first…just please make sure you do the personality survey with the same email address so we can connect the data.

Prizes will be awarded in early December! As we get more prizes into the pool, we’ll announce them through social media and here. Thanks for helping us build understanding about our hobby!

What is NEON ID? To learn more, take a look at this video:

Loss in the Time of Corona

Much of the board game community was gripped in grief this week at the loss of a gamer who so many of us truly adored, James Miller. If you didn’t know James, suffice it to say that if you did, you would have loved him, too. He was kindness personified, someone who took an interest in everyone he met, an ace game explainer and a funny yet sweet presence at every game table. I don’t want to say he was a prince; he was what we want in a prince.

James in blue during an epic game of Time’s Up while in Essen (2009, Stephanie Bennett)

As the tributes poured in on social media, some with happy pictures (James had a smile that conveyed pure joy every single time) and heartfelt memories shared (especially about his exceptional Time’s Up skills), and others succinct enough to follow Twitter’s original character limit, they all were strongly expressed and it was obvious that the network of James’ friends extended across the world. We all felt the loss in a very real sense even if we only saw James at game cons (as was the case for me). Yes, this was because James was one of those friends one appreciates so much. But the number of people who added that this was just another thing tearing at the soul during this challenging time in our world was enormous. I felt it myself. Could 2020 stop taking everything from us? How are we to cope?

A Period of Grief

I have been through a lot of grief in the last few years, including the passing of my father, an uncle who was like a second dad, two other close uncles, a close aunt, a young adult who I watched grow up, and even my mother just two and half months back. That isn’t even mentioning some other gamer friends who also left us too soon. It’s been a very tough few years.

In 2018, I felt the same way most of us are feeling about 2020. Early that year, my father passed and literally the Monday after the funeral, I found out about this young person passing who I cared about and who my children looked up to as an older brother. After this, every other bad thing that happened, from my mother’s dementia accelerating to my basset hound passing to even a favorite author dying, made it feel like the year itself was getting crueler. Work became untenable, with some people at my organization doing completely insane things. I could feel myself losing touch with the things that brought me joy.

Thankfully, I had a plan in place to travel to the UK at that point to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law, who live there most of the time. The trip was about memorializing my father properly and we did so by traveling to Ulverston, the birthplace of Stan Laurel. In addition to staying at the Stan Laurel Inn (a charming tavern), we spread his and my uncle’s ashes in the river there (yes, we had a Lebowski moment), and spent time at the Laurel and Hardy museum that occupies an old movie house in town. While there, we talked to the museum owner and other attendees about my father and my uncle, their great love of the duo, how they had met Stan Laurel when they were young, and how our trip was to honor their memories.

My sister Isabel and me with the Boys in Ulverston.

Yes, the trip was for my Dad but also for my Uncle Bill. Just six months before my father’s passing, my uncle had died and perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to tell my Dad that his brother, his practical twin, had passed. While his cognitive abilities were impaired by a stroke a dozen years before, he’d gotten quite good at controlling his emotions. But this broke us both down. I hugged him and we both cried so much; I recall thinking that our tears must have gotten mixed up. I told these stories to my sister while I was visiting her third-floor flat and we spent a lot of time crying but also a lot of time telling happy stories about our wonderful dad and our cool, witty uncle.

A Process of Mourning

At the York Minster

While I cannot discount the healing value of having spent the week after our trip to Ulverston walking through the towns of Northern England (even a trip to Liverpool – home to both The Beatles and my family) with my beloved sister Isabel, it was that storytelling and those shared memories that helped me with the mourning process. Someone smarter than me clarified in a book I read that grief is something we experience but mourning is a process you go through and actively work to complete.

I realized I was getting to the end of my process of mourning when I was on the plane back to the US. I could feel my father firmly placed on one shoulder and my uncle on the other, ready for me to call upon their wisdom when I needed it. My father is where I got my passionate loyalty, my sense of right and wrong, and the toughness to take things on when I needed to do so. My uncle is where I got my intellectual curiosity and love of learning, along with my gregarious nature, and sense of wonder for the future. They were still with me through my memories and when I passed them on to others, I could keep them alive.

A Commitment to Heal and Endure

When I returned to the States, I had lunch with my friend and colleague Dr. Galen Buckwalter at our favorite sushi spot. Galen is one of the world’s leading psychometricians and a man of profound understanding that I’m honored to still work with on my new project, NEON ID. When he heard about my travels and their healing quality, he noted that this is why we have ritual. We honor those we lose and invest the time in mourning to help us process what they meant to us so we can continue to live. Those memories and those stories we tell keep them alive for all of us who remain. Yes, sometimes tears accompany those moments but this process is what helps us find the strength to endure. I don’t use memories as a wall to block out grief; I use them as a filter to transform those sad moments into learning and gratitude for the time we had with them.

This glorious yet simple message was written on the wall in my path to get to the beach the last day I was on holiday last month. It was precisely what I needed.

If I had not gone through 2018 and found a way to cope, I don’t think I could have handled 2020 at all. While I have not completed my mourning process for my mother, I have begun it. I took a smaller trip for my birthday last month and spent time reflecting on her loss while sitting on a beach with my feet in the sand and my eyes resting on the waves. This was a strong start to the process but I know it will continue. She’s begun to manifest next to my father on my shoulder, the gentlest of reminders about what she taught me regarding unconditional love. For now, I remain her student and will keep at it until I’ve processed in what I have to learn from her life. I’m drawing strength against despair from her each and every day.

And this weekend, I will be honoring James by getting my family to play his game Control Nut. I am so happy that I acquired a copy some years ago. I will admit that I bought it before playing the game. I snapped it up because of James, because he was someone I liked so much that I wanted his game on my shelf. I happen to also like the game and I’m happy for the excuse to get it back to the table.

In the future, I will remember him and my happy memories of time playing games or just shooting the breeze with him when I play it. Heck, I will remember him every time I do a solid job of explaining a game since I know I picked up some of my skills from him over the years. I can take those learnings from him and, I hope, maybe I can even learn to be a kinder person from hearing how he positively affected the lives of so many gamers across the world. He lived life well and the huge impact is strongly felt across our community. How much more can be asked of any of us?

Control Nut is good, trick-takey fun!

This will be part of my way of processing this loss even in this horrible moment in history. We must go on, we must cope, we must right the ship and we must thrive. All of those who passed who loved us would want that and it’s our duty to keep honoring their lives by doing so. I will get to work with it and I hope you will, too.

Reading List

I always turn to books when I need help and this was no exception. Here are some books on this process that have helped me in recent days:

It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay by Megan Devine – Recommended to me by Galen’s wife, Dr. Deborah Buckwalter. More focused on the loss of a spouse/partner but still very useful

Can We Please Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast – Recommended by Andy Looney. Focused on coping with older parents and care-taking.

The Orphaned Adult by Alexander Levy – Read about it online. More religion than I needed, but still a good book for coping with the loss of parents in particular.

5 Reasons Why Board Gamers Make the Best Employees

5 Reasons Why Board Gamers Make the Best Employees

Hiring isn’t easy. Lots of books will tell you to hire for culture fit, hire the person and sort out the job for them, or to simply bring in a diverse set of voices that will create the energy and creativity to help you grow your business. How can you tell what really works?

I’ve hired hundreds of employees in the last twenty years, so I look for the shortcuts where I can, just not problematic ones like ‘hiring people who just look like you or went to the same school.’ I’m looking for the insight from elsewhere in a candidates’ life. My greatest mentor, Morgan Underwood, used to come into interviews with great ‘personality’ questions. He always said that if we’re going to spend so much time together, we should hire employees whose company we enjoy.

Nowadays, we’d probably drop that into the aforementioned ‘culture fit’ and, while that concept gets a bad rap sometimes, I find it useful. I love to hear that a candidate devotes time to charity. It’s exciting to hear they have an artistic side of an interesting hobby that offers insight into the type of person they are. This last point is most useful when I hear that a candidate plays modern board games.

Now, full disclosure: Board games are one of my main hobbies. I encourage play of them everywhere I work so it might sound like I’m just fishing for more players at lunch time and after work but hear me out. I like to hire board gamers because I think they make great employees.

Terraforming Mars – Don’t you want your employees doing this for fun?

Mind you, I’m not talking about people who play lamentable classic board games like Candyland with their children. I’m talking about people who play modern board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. These folks are participating in a hobby that is surging in popularity, on its way to a 12 billion-dollar valuation in 2023. I have always said that this resurgence in popularity is a reaction to so much screen time. More importantly, these people are spending their leisure time with the most intellectually stimulating hobby around.

Why are these people likely to be great employees? Let’s take a look at what you get when you hire a board game fan.

  1. Intellectual Exercise – Their hobby is an intellectual exercise. In addition to being one of the best ways to combat dementia, board games are mentally stimulating as they involve resource management, planning, trouble-shooting and puzzle-solving – often all within a single game. Modern board games ask players to manage situational luck, weigh options that all sound attractive, and make a large number of decisions every hour they play – all in the name of fun with friends. I want people on my teams that do this kind of activity as a hobby because they are getting trained to make real business decisions when it counts for my company.
  2. Interaction with People – Forget the introverted geek stereotype. Most modern board games involve a lot of interaction. The best of them hone your people skills with a chance to negotiate and trade, participate in auctions, work cooperatively or semi-cooperatively, and basically learn more about people through deep interaction. In some games, you need to ferret out a player who is working against the others. Often, you have to weigh what’s important to you against what the other players want or need. In others, you just have to flat out convince people to support what you want to do. These are absolutely valuable as business skills. Sure, you can build camaraderie by going bowling or out for drinks, but board games offer you insight into the way people can successfully work together, compete, and win with our minds, using skills that are more directly related to how a business runs.
  3. The Art of Winning and Losing – Board game players get more chances to win and lose than the average person. Every time you release a product, run a marketing campaign, or try to close a sale, you get important feedback and an opportunity to learn. Board gamers get this experience with every game, learning from failure in a place where the stakes are lower. Since modern board games are driven by decisions, strategic thinking, and managing risk, players get a chance to learn from their errors, dissect success, and – to paraphrase one of the world’s greatest game designers, Reiner Knizia – to see winning as a goal and to focus on that goal, not the winning. When we face these highs and lows more frequently than just a quarterly report of success, it helps employees manage the stress of these key moments.
  4. Bias to Action — For board gamers, the focus is on action. Sure, people watch movies, tv and sporting events to relax. There’s nothing wrong with that. In contrast, board gamers simply put on another hat and get to work for their fun. No, modern board games are not work. Yet, this hobby trains minds to engage, to act in a timely manner, and to make considered moves. That drives a bias to action, to push ahead with plans and avoid indecision. Board games will give them 10 turns to build the means of being successful and then running the engine to generate that success.
  5. Knows the Rules — Board gamers like to learn new rules. They are good at finding paths to succeed within the boundaries of the possible. Modern board games are not an endless slog like Monopoly. Most have fixed endings that give players focus on a strategic plan. That sure sounds a lot like a good business plan. Board gamers learn the rules both to follow them and find the opportunity hidden among them. Sure, rule-breakers are cool. But a smart business really wants a team of employees that can find a way to success by playing by the rules and using them to effectively drive ongoing success. If your employees are always thinking about how to make things work with what they have, even during their leisure time, they are building up the mental muscles to be strong when it’s time to build and grow your business.
Board Games Build Business Skills

Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that you should include a game of Terraforming Mars or Scythe as part of your interview process. Yet, I do think that when you hear your prospective employees are playing board games in their spare time, you are likely speaking to a smart person who has the problem-solving skills to be a great contributor to your business. I rank it right up there with people who read a lot, have cool side hustles, and those for whom Coursera is a YouTube substitute. Grab these people before some other smart company does. They will help you win the game your business is playing time and again.


P.S. Yes, introduce a board game night or lunch at your company. This will help you build these skills with your existing team while also increasing a sense of camaraderie amongst your employees. Look here for a set of party games I recommend.

Lydia Burgess: A remembrance of my loving mother

Lydia Burgess: A remembrance of my loving mother

This year, due to COVID-19, was the first Mother’s Day in my life that I did not spend with my loving mother, Lydia. It now seems prescient to what would befall our family yesterday, in that we lost her to natural causes in the depth of the afternoon.

She did like her wine!

My mother was a lovely, beautiful woman, but only 5’1” and three-quarters tall (she’d bristle if I failed to mention the three-quarters). Yes, although I top out at 6 feet, my mother was quite tiny but she packed a lot of life and love into that diminutive frame. In her eighty-one years, my mother endured a lot. While her childhood and earlier years included more than her share of loss and pain, things changed when she met and married my father in her early twenties. I enjoyed recently hearing a cousin of mine say it was like a fairy tale wedding, my dad coming in as a prince to marry my princess of a mother so they could begin their happily ever after. Their love affair would last over fifty years, produce three children and four grandchildren. I go there quickly because that’s what made my mother happiest: Family.

My parents when they were dating.

Everything my mother did was about her family. She was the mother who put everyone in her life ahead of herself, the mom who would happily trade a meal with you at a restaurant if you didn’t like yours. She would watch the film you wanted to see, she’d go to the store you wanted to visit, and even play the board game you picked out. And she went above and beyond just your health and immediate happiness. In Disney terms, I’d call it “plussing it up.’ She didn’t stop at what you needed, she’d do more to make sure you were happy and felt she cared. I still recall one day when I was extremely ill as a child, how she left work early to come home and spend more time with me. Yes, she brought the medicine to make sure I felt better. Yet, she also stopped at the Clarks Drugs counter and bought me an Atari cartridge so that when I felt better, I had this little ‘feel even better’ gift to enjoy. That’s a tradition with us now, we all tend to give little feel-better gifts when someone is really not well (my sister just sent one to my daughter). That was my mom’s way and it counts, that stays with you – notably, I can tell you that the game was Laser Blast (she had called and made sure it was one I wanted) because I still feel good from her generosity that day, almost forty years ago.

My mom and dad were so cool, they loved Star Wars.

When I was older and learned of the difficult life my mom endured as a child, I was flummoxed. How did she live through that trauma and still turn into the most generous, kind, and wonderful mother? She simply took pain and transformed it into love; it became a desire to protect and to care for her children deeply. She was always was ready to help. She really didn’t want much for herself but she delighted in giving and helping. Not that she was entirely opposed to receiving something. If you had a yummy dessert on your plate at a restaurant, she would collect her ‘taste’. From when I was very young, I recall she’d tell us that if she didn’t get a little bite of whatever you had, she’d ‘get a bump on her tongue.’ I can recall getting to an age where I saw through the emotional appeal. I demanded to see the bump, to which she’d say that it’d only manifest if I were to be so ungenerous as to NOT give her a bite. I always did. All that time, I never saw a bump. She could be pretty persuasive.

My mom was also a fibber. I will use that term instead of ‘liar’ because all of her falsehoods were of the ‘white lie’ variety. She would often tell a fanciful version of things to avoid hurting people’s feelings. But she’d also dial them up to get herself out of trouble. As she got older, it was easier to catch her in these little fibs. When she’d say she took her pills to avoid getting hassled for forgetting. We’d catch her and she’d laugh at her deception and demand to know who told on her. She’d get away with it every time. She’d earned it.

Big drinker? Not really, but she was always ready for take a silly photo.

She also had a sneaky sense of humor. While she was quite proper for the most part, I recall her laughing loudly (her mirth was high-pitched and catching) at some pretty raunchy jokes when we went to see Chasing Amy in the theater. My own fault for taking my parents to a Kevin Smith film. She also happily participated in practical jokes. My dad told traditional jokes, which I’ve never done. But I definitely got my tendency to deliver deadpan ludicrous details to prank people from my mom.

Both of my parents taught me compassion. While my father spoke about it intellectually and did what he could in his noble work, my mother was a passionate debater that would get into it with someone as he rarely would. While she wasn’t a deeply churchy person, her Catholic ideals of protecting the meek and poor never faded for a moment. She hated bullies, she railed against the obscenely rich who exploited the weak, and she expressed tolerance for everyone. I can recall trying to pull her away from arguments with family who found a way to believe otherwise, but she didn’t go away quietly. In this kind-hearted woman, this is where she got fierce. She was a person of enormous compassion for the common person. I will always love and respect her for that; it was an extension of how she protected her family and loved people.

At The Magic Castle in LA. My mom wanted to go anywhere, do anything.

If my mom’s generosity as a mother was huge, it was truly epic as a grandmother. Her grandchildren could basically do no wrong. Her kids – sure, we were an imperfect bunch but she loved and defended us anyway. But the grandkids? They were her perfect angels and no amount of reality could get in the way of that. Did a grandchild break something? Her fault for leaving it on such a high shelf. Did they misbehave? She’d clearly failed to address all their pent-up energy. Did they do something that their parents directly said not to do? Well, clearly her child failed to make rules that worked well for her grandchild. As a parent of half of those kids, I can tell you that this could be very irritating! Grandma was something of an enabler and when I’d determine a punishment suitable to a crime, she’d openly defy and discount the judgment. Definitely not helpful for young parents, but I knew it came from her indomitable love of her grandchildren. For my kids, she would host sleepovers and they loved to go. She’d make those nights so special for them, with treats and games. I recall her telling me how much she loved them being over. She told me once that they both crawled into bed and snuggled with her, one on each side and how that, for her, was “heaven.” She would do anything for her grandkids. In all cases, she was the primary or only grandma, the one who was closer (physically and emotionally) and participated the most. I bet they’d all say that she more than made up for lacking a partner, so ample was her attention and her care for them. I’ve learned ‘grandparenting’ well from her example, and my children will just have to deal with it. I fully intend to be the exact same way.

Some of my fondest memories of my mom are from the trips we took. As a youth, we didn’t take too many vacations, although I got to do a special one with my mom and dad back to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic when I was sixteen. I was old enough to truly enjoy the time with my parents as an almost-adult and we had so many good discussions. Better yet were the many times my parents and especially my mom came with my family on vacation. When my son was a baby and my daughter was still on the way, we planned a trip to Walt Disney World. My dad wasn’t all that into it, but my mom loved every minute. And she carried my son EVERYWHERE. She knew my wife was already ‘carrying’ a baby, so she took care of my son. I kept offering to take him after we’d walked all day across the massive theme parks, but she would never give him up. To her, carrying a grandchild did not add encumbrance. She joined us many times on so many trips, with and without my dad, when we went down to Paradise Point, our favorite getaway in San Diego. She was always there to spend time with her grandkids, to let my wife and me have some quiet time together, and to be part of our joy. I’m also so grateful that we got to take her and my dad on their final big trip, a return to Hawaii and the islands we visited as a family when I was just eight years old. We stayed close to where we had before on Kawaii and revisited many of the locations, now with my wife and children in tow. As always, my mom was the MVP, helping wrangle the kids, watching them so Christina and I could get a break, and making any and every sacrifice to ensure others had the best time (those famous food-swaps, or indulging the kids with souvenirs and treats) and just being a listener at any moment, and a companion to share in the wonder and the joy. My kids’ grandma could out-grandma just about any other grandma, I can tell you.

In Kauai, with my children.

Many say you look to your parents for the qualities you seek in a spouse. I was quite conscious of that when I asked my wife Christina to marry me. She has my mother’s care, compassion, and generosity. My mother knew this from the beginning and embraced my wonderful wife immediately, treating her as just another one of her children, similarly loved and defended. I can recall complaining to my mom about marital challenges at times. She’d listen but didn’t ‘take my side’ because she wouldn’t speak ill of her daughter-in-law. She was just another one of her children and I love my mom all the more for that. We lost my mother-in-law twenty-one years ago, and my wife has spoken of how my mother did what she could to fill that gap. She took so much care of our kids and helped us so much. My parents moved close to us when our kids were born so they could be those grandparents that are always around. And it’s no surprise that my wife took amazing care of my mom, too, also out of pure love.

My dad’s stroke some fifteen years ago changed all of our lives, but hers the most next only to him. The lifelong caregiver had to go into overdrive and she was more than equal to the task. She spent over a decade caring for him night and day, making adjustments, doing everything she needed to do to care for her precious husband. Her strength through this was amazing, even as she faced these struggles without my father’s endless optimism. It was tough, but she took such good care of him as they grew older and needed more care, moving from their townhome to a mobile home and eventually to my home (with my dad across the street in a board-and-care facility).

After my father passed away in early 2018, my mother was never the same. While she’d been touched with dementia in the year leading up to his death, the illness grew – often in aggressive spurts. She moved from our home to assisted living and then memory care. Although she had bouts of anxiety and difficulty at times, she remained thrilled to see me when I would visit her each week. We’d go out for breakfast even though she’d have already eaten. She’d delight in a second breakfast with me (I’ll refrain from the hobbit joke based on her size – oops!) and ask about the kids. Sometimes, she’d need to repeat that question rather a lot because her memory was fading, but that was always top of mind. Yes, there were anti-Trump diatribes (of course she hated him, he’s everything she despised), but mostly it was her seizing on and enjoying the details of how my children and my niece and nephew were carrying on. Each small detail was greeted with pure joy; her ambrosia was knowing the family was thriving. I really believe that the isolation from all of us had an impact on her. Yet, she’d have had it no other way. She’s want people to be safe and to be practicing physical distancing, even as it kept her from hugging her children and grandchildren for a couple of months. I cherish that last visit Alaric and I made just before the lockdown. Even as she wasn’t expressive in words, she closed her eyes with joy as she hugged her grandson and then me, knowing she had done well by the world and by her much-loved family.

Wedding Picture

As I kissed her head a final time, I was taken by how much she still looked like my mom despite the tubes, the state of her health, and the wear of decades. Throughout my life, she never looked different; she remained her same beautiful self from when I was young – perhaps even, back to the image of her wedding picture a decade before I was born – that shining princess smiling as if she knew, already and for sure, how much happiness she’d experience and create in her life. It wasn’t the hair dye. I looked at her that final time as I always did, with the love she showed me how to experience – the power to soften wrinkles, cloud patches of gray, and obfuscate whatever else had changed. I still saw my mom full of a desire for her family to be healthy, happy, and safe. Before I sat vigil next to her in the final minutes, my sister whispered to her that she didn’t have to take care of us any longer – we were ready to care for one another. I also said what I could to comfort her; I told her that all was well, that her family loved her and that it was time to be at peace. The words strung together and ended up in a kind of chant to ensure that her last thoughts would be free of the worry we both would tend to feel. I hope she trusted me about it. I believe she did.

Our last picture together, March 2020

Since my father passed away in early 2018, I feel his presence in my daily decision to greet the world with optimism. My mom is now by his side, reminding me to love before I judge and to work at converting the sense of suspicion we shared into a careful wisdom. That’s how I believe it will play out, although it’s still quite fresh in my head and my heart. Right now, it feels like her telling me to simply add love in heaping spoonfuls to every recipe for living life. It worked for her and I can hear her calming, sweet voice telling me that it should work for me as well.

For those who would like to donate in her memory, we have a funding page for the American Heart Association: https://bit.ly/lydiamemorial. Thank you for reading about our mom.

PRESS RELEASE: Blood Rage: Digital Edition is now available on Steam (PC and Mac)

PRESS RELEASE: Blood Rage: Digital Edition is now available on Steam (PC and Mac)

Launch Trailer: Conquer Midgard and seek victory through battle
to earn your place in Valhalla!

PARIS – May 27, 2020 – Asmodee Digital, a leader in video game entertainment inspired by board games, is proud to announce the release of Blood Rage: Digital Edition on Steam (PC and Mac, 19,99 € / $19.99).

Ragnarök is coming: view the Launch Trailer.

The faithful digital adaptation of the legendary Viking board game designed by Eric Lang, with art by Adrian Smith, is developed by Exozet. The hit board game, originally released by CMON, is the 31st all-time title according to BoardGameGeek, with an 8/10 rating. The core gameplay is focused on combat and terrain control. In Blood Rage, your goal is to achieve the greatest amount of glory before the end of the third and final age – and the arrival of Ragnarök.


In Blood Rage: Digital Edition, each player controls one of the seven ancient Viking clans: the Wolf, Bear, Serpent, Raven, Ram, Wild Boar, and Stag clan. Each one comes with its unique warriors, leader, and ship. Draft the best cards and use them to get the advantage in battle. Raid lands, fulfill quests, and upgrade your units to lead your clan to victory! The original miniatures from the board game have been digitized into 3D-animated units using high-res photogrammetry, leveraging more than 100 pictures for each of them.


You must choose your drafted cards carefully at the beginning of each Age. Prepare your winning strategy for the game but make sure to adapt as your opponents take actions or claim allegiance to specific gods. Each god is generous with unique features: Frigga provides resources and support, Tyr strengthens your clan in battle while Loki rewards losing battles or punishes the opposing winner. Deduce their plan and play tactically to counter them. Winning battles is not the only way to victory, as you sometimes gain more victory points by sacrificing your troops!

For your clan, there are many paths to Glory:

● Invade the mythical land of Midgard and its nine provinces, pillaging their villages and the province of Yggdrasil.
● Crush other clans in ferocious battles and encounter legendary creatures from Norse mythology.
● Fulfill quests in honor of the mighty gods.
● Die gloriously in battle or from Ragnarök as any Viking was born to do.

If you want to win in Blood Rage: Digital Edition, you should not shy away from a fight and a glorious death on the battlefield! The game is based around War and Glory: your goal is to achieve the greatest amount of glory before the end of the third and final age — and the arrival of Ragnarök.

Main features:

● Fight to gain entry to Valhalla: Pillage, fight, sacrifice… Experience a new type of strategy game where victory can only be achieved by commanding your warriors in the field of battle in the face of final doom.
● Welcome to Midgard: Dozens of 3d scanned miniatures and a dynamic board faithful to the original board game.
● Multi-layered strategy game: Blood Rage mixes draft, hidden cards, resource management and its sheer load of trickery. Plan your strategy but be ready to adapt to your opponents’ choices: winning battles is not always the best course of action.
● Up to five Players: Introducing the ‘5th player expansion’ allowing up to five players to play together. All the miniatures from the Ram, Wild Boar and Stag clans as well as the God Gifts cards from the ‘5th Player Expansion’ of the board game are available in this digital edition for free.
● Become the greatest Viking Leader: Play solo against AI, local multiplayer via hotseat or online multiplayer with ELO ranking and leaderboards.

The game is available on Steam (PC and Mac) starting today, May 27, for 19,99 €/ $19.99.

About Asmodee Digital
Asmodee Digital, a fully owned subsidiary of the Asmodee Group, is an international publisher and distributor of video games with operations located in Europe, North America, and China. Asmodee Digital manages the creation, design, development, publishing, and marketing of video games for Asmodee Group and third-party creators on PC (Steam), consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One) on mobile (App Store, Google Play, Amazon) and VR (Oculus, PS VR…). Asmodee Digital aims at bringing the best of video gaming with a board game DNA to life with best-selling products such as Gloomhaven, CATAN, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game, Pandemic, Splendor and much more. To learn more, please visit www.asmodee-digital.com.

About Exozet
Exozet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Endava Inc., is one of Germany’s leading agencies for digital transformation. With lots of passion and innovative spirit, the Berlin-based company creates digital solutions for and with its clients. Exozet develops digital board games, for example for the award-winning Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne franchises. Its expertise is diverse and includes development for PC (Steam, WebGL), consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One) and mobile devices (Apple, Android, Amazon) as well as AR and VR applications (Oculus, HTC Vive, Microsoft Mixed Media). Furthermore, Exozet realizes user-centric products like websites, platforms and video solutions. Learn more at www.exozet.com.

About CMON
CMON Limited is an international publisher and designer of board games, tabletop games and card games. Beginning from small hobbyist roots, CMON Limited has grown into a multinational group that publishes multiple award-winning games, including Zombicide™, Death May Die™, Arcadia Quest™, Rising Sun™, Blood Rage™, The World of Smog™, Marvel United™ and many more. Known in the hobby industry for working with the top game designers, artists, and sculptors in the world, CMON Limited has built an impressive portfolio of both original, best-selling IPs, as well as licensed material. In addition to having worldwide retail distribution, CMON is also the #1 fundraising company of any type on Kickstarter, having raised over $62 million on the platform since the debut of Zombicide in 2012. Learn more at https://www.cmon.com/.

PRESS RELEASE: Outta Our Shells Quadruples Kickstarter Goal, Launches Later This Year

PRESS RELEASE: Outta Our Shells Quadruples Kickstarter Goal, Launches Later This Year

LAHAINA, HAWAII, April 16, 2020 —Outta Our Shells, the new family-friendly ice-breaker card game developed by Greg Johnson, co-creator and designer of ToeJam & Earl, smashed through its original funding goal and wraps up its Kickstarter campaign with two fully funded stretch goals and launches later this year.

The charming, conversation-starting Outta Our Shells has raised over $41,000 over the course of its Kickstarter. Inspired by this reaction, Johnson has decided to add additional artwork to the front of the Question and Fortune cards. Thanks to hitting the $25K and $30K stretch goals, the game will now include 50 brand new cards to help flesh out the game even further, as well as do-it-yourself cards to add some personal flair to each session. 

DIY cards spice up the game however players see fit. Write out special Questions to delight and entertain friends and family. Create Cat or Rat cards that offer choices that feel relevant and resonate with the people in your close circle. Formulate Fortunes, either or Good or Bad, that you feel should be in the game and will make others laugh. 

Each game includes three decks of cards featuring adorable art. Draw Question cards to learn more about each player using prompts designed to inspire storytelling. Glean new details from each anecdote to learn what they like, then try to guess those inclinations with Cat or Rat cards. Trade in Cat or Rat cards for Fortunes until players obtain three Fortune cards they are satisfied with. Ultimately, the real goal is to get to know each other and have a great time. 

“Running a Kickstarter is always exciting,” said Greg Johnson. “You never know what’s going to happen. Still, the really exciting part starts once the game gets into the people’s hands and they start enjoying it and talking about it. That’s really the part I can’t wait for! I am so excited that Outta Our Shells is finally getting out there after all of these years of playing it with my friends.” 

Outta Our Shells will be available in English this year for $24.99 at local retailers and available online. Each box includes 250 cards, along with 6 Blank DIY cards for custom cards. The final version of the game launches later this year so players can forge new friendships or cement existing relationships.


To learn more, please visit Outta Our Shells pledge page, watch for updates on the ToeJam and Earl Twitter and Facebook, or interact with Greg directly on his Twitter.

FREE SOLO GAME: Dark Force Incursion – Download Now

FREE SOLO GAME: Dark Force Incursion – Download Now

DR Games would like to announce the release of Dark Force Incursion, a roll and write, single player tabletop game. It has been designed with the current world situation in mind. What can be easily accessible to those who are at home and unable to participate in their usual gaming sessions because of isolation? The obvious answer is a downloadable roll and write game, and as the rule book and initial maps are free it is a great way of giving something back to the community.

Take the hex tile design, that is a feature of other DR Games designs, combined with a number mechanism and injected with a narrative, and Dark Force Incursion is born. Narrative elements are key to how DR Games designs their products and for DFI there is dramatic setting…

Your land has been invaded by a powerful Dark Force. The speed of the invasion was frightening, and they have taken all the defensive forts in your land. In desperation you have gathered your dwindling army and now must push out to recapture these forts to secure the safety of your people and drive.”

Dark Force Incursion is a Roll and Write game that is for one person, taking 20 to 40 minutes to play. All you will need is the rule book, one of the DFI maps, one six-sided dice and a pencil.

Here are the files to download: 

Dark Force Incursion Rule Book 

Calosanti Region Map 

Biliton Region Map 

Tolantus Region Map

Borkana Region Map

Shalmista Region Map


The rule book consists of four pages and each map a single page

Follow DR games on their website to find out all the latest news: 

Website: www.DRMgames.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarkRealmMaps 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIx1pmVwuKeV0GJh3tkYNbg

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darkrealmmaps/ Email Address: Darkrealmmaps@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE: ANNOUNCING GOOD COP BAD COP®: PROMOTED

PRESS RELEASE: ANNOUNCING GOOD COP BAD COP®: PROMOTED
The award-winning classic, Good Cop Bad Cop®, is getting its third expansion where actions in one game carry over to the next.
PULL THE PIN GAMES­­™, formerly Overworld Games®, has announced that the third expansion to their award-winning, classic hidden identity game, Good Cop Bad Cop®, will be called Promoted and it will launch on Kickstarter May 26th. This expansion will award medals to players for their heroics in one game, which may get them promoted in the next game. Promotions, such as Negotiator, Crime Scene Analyst, Paramedic, or Coroner will allow a player to take  additional actions on their turn that no one else can, like drawing extra equipment or investigating more cards. Good Cop Bad Cop®: Promoted will be compatible with any combination of base game or previous expansions.
The deluxe version on Kickstarter will add dual layered chipboard to hold a player’s medals, custom sleeves to hide card wear, travel-sized organizers for each expansion, and a big box to hold all the Good Cop Bad Cop® content that has ever been made.Backers will receive a free pack of extra promotions that will be exclusive to them for a limited time. And those who back in the first 24 hours will receive another free gift, so signing up to be notified of the launch ensures they will get that too. Brian Henk, co-designer of Good Cop Bad Cop® says, “This expansion provides mechanisms that allow you and the players at your table to create a narrative of how they rise through the ranks in their precinct, getting more powerful while still changing allegiances throughout — it adds to the stories players already tell as they play.” The other co-designer, Clayton Skancke, says, “People won’t need an excuse to get back together playing games when we get through this pandemic, but we hope that we can make it a little more fun for them when they do with this expansion.”
About Pull the Pin Games™Pull the Pin Games™, previously known as Overworld Games®, makes approachable games for a wide range of players at a low price. Each game has very easy-to-learn rules that allow casual gamers to jump into them while also challenging veteran gamers with deeper strategies they can attempt and explore.
ContactWebsite: pullthepingames.com
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